Year 1979
Studio 20th Centry Fox

Ronald Shusett

Gordon Carroll

David Giler

Walter Hill


Riddley Scott


Dan O'Bannon

Ronald Shusett

Music Jerry Goldsmith

Sigourney Weaver

John Hurt

Tom Skerritt

Harry Dean Stanton

Ian Holm

Yaphet Kotto

Length 116 minutes


‘‘ In space, no one can hear you scream. ’’

alienterror picture Dan O’Bannon had the works of H.P. Lovecraft very much in mind when, “in extremis,” he wrote the classic space-horror epic Alien.

HPL’s motto of “atmosphere, not action” pervades the film much like the primordial gases covering the unknown planet (one critic described it as Yuggoth) where the creature is discovered as a leathery egg inside an organic (and very dead) space ship, a scene that would have given Lovecraft chills.

In fact, Alien is almost all atmosphere, a Val Lewton movie with a big budget. The film, set almost entirely inside a claustrophobic intergalactic mining ship owned by “the company,” is downright eerie.

The alien itself is rarely seen as it stalks and dispatches the puny human prey, only adding to the tension and feelings of cosmic dread. But when we do see the bastard, the scenes are absolutely mind-numbing—not to mention face-hugging, chest-bursting, and quadruple-acid-dripping-H.R. Giger-designed-teeth-biting.

The film does an excellent job at giving the alien a total indifference to the fate of the seven humans on board, nicely conforming to HPL’s “fundamental premise that common human laws and interests . . . have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large.”

The creature’s primitive form also reminds one of Lovecraft’s equally primeval Old Ones or Mi-Go who “filtered down from the stars when the earth was young.”

One unforgettable scene was even, um, resurrected by Re-Animator.

Evil science officer Ash is discovered to be a robot. He’s smashed to pieces and Ripley hooks up his severed head to extract information about the alien; remind anyone of good old Miskatonic U.’s disembodied Dr. Hill on a paper spike?

Alien is the essence of HPL’s cosmic horror stuffed inside a space ship, the craft’s twisting corridors yet another branch of Lovecraft’s ever-growing Mythos. Alien stands as one of the best examples of Cosmic Horror.